I-Team: Chinese nationals fight for U.S. citizenship - 8 News NOW

I-Team: Chinese nationals fight for U.S. citizenship

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LAS VEGAS -- Five legal immigrants are being told they're not welcome in the United States. The immigrants and their families are from China. They're part of a federal program allowing people to move to the United States if they're able to invest half a million dollars.

The famous poem on the Statue of Liberty states, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free." It doesn't mention the Immigrant Investor program that allows a person -- with enough money -- to become a citizen.

Five Chinese immigrants have filed a lawsuit saying their American dream was cancelled for no good reason.

East Ocean Dim Sum and Seafood restaurant in Henderson wins awards for as the best Chinese restaurant in the city. It's owned by Steven Lee. He's an American Citizen who moved from Hong Kong 23 years ago.

"This country, you have everything you want. It also gives you a chance to grow yourself and have a better business," Lee said.

He was one of the first to sign up for the federal EB-5 Immigrant Investor program. If a person invests half a million dollars and employs 10 American citizens within 2 years, they get a pathway to citizenship.  It worked for Lee and he hoped it would work for his business partners.

Yongming Hu, Liang Shao and Yanzhao Zou were three of five Chinese nationals looking to move to Las Vegas. Their wives and daughters prepared for their new life in America after getting approved last year. The families gathered the half million dollars each, deposited it in American banks and began setting up a real estate firm in Las Vegas.

A few months ago, all five families were told they weren't welcome here.

"I feel so bad for the families," Lee said.

"The government's notice of their intent to revoke said, 'we made a mistake,'" said attorney Mark Dzarnowski.

He is suing the federal government on behalf of the Chinese families.

"For the life of me, I don't understand why the government would promote the illegal immigration that constitutes a drain on our system but yet would step in and stop five people, 10 people, 100 people from investing in America and making our economic engine turn," Dzarnowski said.

Immigration officials tell the I-Team they give legal causes for denying every claim but would not explain this specific denial because they're being sued.

A rejection letter shows that while the Chinese immigrants' real estate business plan was approved the first time, it was rejected for multiple reasons during a second review. Their attorneys are trying to discover who ordered the second review.

Citizenship is historically not something considered to be up for sale.

"So what if somebody wants to be an American citizen so bad, that they are willing to commit everything they have earned and saved in their life to buy citizenship and create jobs, buy homes and have a new life that helps other Americans," Dzarnowski said. "What would be wrong with that?"

If the families would have been allowed to immigrate, they legally would be required to create 50 jobs all together. Lee looks at the employees he's hired over the years and wonders why he's not allowed to share that dream with his business partners.

"I think it's unfair. Very unfair."

All the families still have their money in American banks, according to their attorney. Dzarnowski filed a court motion Thursday hoping to quickly reverse the immigration rejection.


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